Rules For Table Tennis
Are you looking for the basic rules for table tennis? Sometimes a quick guide is all you need for a friendly game. Table tennis, or ping pong, is the world's most popular racket sport. The concept is simple-- two or four players hit a lightweight ball back and forth with small rackets. The game is played on a hard table divided by a net.
If you want the official table tennis rules, visit the websites for USA Table Tennis (USATT) or the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF). But if you just want to play a fun game of ping pong, here are seven basic rules to keep in mind.
- Equipment: Table. A standard ping pong table is nine feet long, five feet wide, and thirty inches high. The table’s center line serves no purpose in a singles game, so you can ignore it if you’re playing one opponent.
- Equipment: Racket. Most table tennis rackets, or paddles, have a red side and a black side. The wooden racket is covered with a layer of rubber on the striking surface. Sometimes the rubber has small nubs pointing in or out, with a thin layer of sponge between the rubber and the wood.
- Equipment: Ball. A table tennis ball is made of celluloid. It’s hollow and measures 40mm in diameter. Balls are rated according to roundness, bounce, and consistency between balls of the same make and type. Most people play the game with orange or white ping pong balls.
- Scoring: Game. The first player to score eleven points wins a game. However, the player must win the game by at least a two-point margin. In table tennis, a point is scored each time a ball is put into play (unlike volleyball, where only the server wins a point). The table edge is part of the legal game surface, but the table sides don’t count.
- Scoring: Match. The player with the best three of five games wins the match. Sometimes a match is the best four of seven games, or the best five of nine.
- Game Service. To serve a ball, a player must rest it on his open palm and toss it at least six inches before striking it with his paddle. He hit the ball so it bounces on his side of the net before bouncing on his opponent’s side. A let serve, or legal serve that touches the net, is not scored. Each player serves two points in a row before switching server. If the players reach a tied score of ten in a single game, the players serves only one point before switching server.
- Game Flow. The players switch table sides after each game. In the final game of the match, the players must switch sides when one of them reaches five points.